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Eat, Pray, Find a Job: 7 Foodie Careers

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The stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a foodie’s favorite time of year. From buttery turkey to gingerbread cookies, ‘tis the season of yumminess.

So we’ve put together a delectable selection of our favorite food-inspired careers. If you’re passionate about all aspects of edible goods — from their taste and look, to their origins and history — read on.

Showcase Food as a Food Stylist

As a stylist, you make breakfast, lunch and dinner look their best for photo and film shoots. Mixing your cooking skills with creative visual style, you use many tools — from lipstick and lard, to lacquer and lotion — to get a dish ready for its close-up. However, it’s not all about the artistic process: to protect your clients against legal issues, you’ve got to stay up to date on all truth in advertising laws.

Average Salary: $33,000–$58,000

Develop Food as a Flavor Chemist

Imagine being able to taste your job. Flavorists do it every day. These chemists use their deep knowledge of essential oils, flavor aromas, and botanical extracts to recreate and intensify flavors from nature — or create entirely new ones. The goal: give processed foods that oh-so-perfect taste.

Average Salary: $50,000–$92,000

Purchase Food as an Artisan Food Buyer

Without specialty buyers, food lovers wouldn’t be able to pluck that bottle of real Italian olive oil off the shelf, enjoy the tang of Indian turmeric, or add Madagascan vanilla extract to their chocolate chip cookies. Plus, when you’re not dealing with international trade regulations and paperwork, you can take time to sample your wares.

Average Salary: $37,000–$66,000

Explore Food as a Dietician

Most people associate dieticians with the idea of food restrictions. Yet much of a dietician’s work revolves around introducing clients to a whole new world of flavors, from the sweetness of blueberries to the spiciness of wasabi. Using your appreciation for good, healthy meals, you guide others toward better nutritional choices.

Average Salary: $42,000–$63,000

Write about Food as a Restaurant Critic

Of all the tantalizing food writer jobs — cookbook reviewer, food blogger — this one takes the cake. While this is a competitive field (who doesn’t want to get paid to eat?), if you’ve got a subtle palate to match your excellent writing skills, you too could thrive in this dream job.

Average Salary: $25,000–$51,000

Advocate for Food as a Food Activist

Whether working to improve school meals plans, fighting for better access to fresh vegetables in low-income neighborhoods, or striving to promote stronger food industry safety standards, it’s a food activist’s mission to promote sustainable and healthy systems from field to plate.

Average Salary: $26,000–$52,000

Study Food as a Culinary Historian

There’s no single path for this tasty career. You might write about the history of a food product (anyone read Salt?), lecture on the effect of the coffee trade on world politics, or consult on a film set to make sure the civil war soldiers are eating historically accurate grub. Regardless of the arena, you use your unique set of knowledge to highlight the historical aspects of food and its consumption. Bon appetit!

Average Salary: $33,000–$76,000

Salary info from the US Department of Labor

What’s your favorite culinary-inspired career?

Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a career exploration site where people can discover what opportunities exist and learn what paths can take them there. Have an opinion? Join the conversation on Twitter @InsideJobs.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • aaron

    What about a Food Scientist, there are many of us the program is growing, also think about Culinology as a degree option if you are into cooking and science. There are few schools that offer it, but it is a growing field.

    • Anonymous

      I wish could have included all the amazing food jobs I came across while researching! Food Scientist is a really interesting option.

  • Pamela

    I’m suprised not to see Food Scientist. There are lots of us out there…

    • Teresa

      Hi Pamela,

      I am currently a Toxicologist with a federal government agency. I completed a diploma in Culinary Arts hoping I could get my foot in the door as a Food Scientist. Do you have any advice on how to do that? You may contact me at washinte@yahoo.com.

      Thanks for any assistance.

  • Mailrana

    Annie– FYI, I reside in DC metro area (including Maryland & Virginia) and for the last 3 years I and many others I know have searched for PAID FT, PT and/ or CONTRACT work as Food Activist and feel compelled to tell u that there are none to very, very, very few few jobs. Must create a project or org and raise funds for such positions and in these difficult economic times where hunger is on the rise, it is damn near impossible!! That is telling it as it really is…

    name & email withheld

    • Anonymous

      Food activism seems so incredibly important, but it’s also good to keep the realities of the current job market in mind. Thanks for pointing this out.

  • http://twitter.com/fastcrete jason ghedrey

    i’d like a job copy editing for you. It’s “bon appetit” not “bon appetite.” Cheers.

    • Anonymous

      Eagle eyes! Thanks for catching that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sagec3 Sage Culley

    I loved this article. I’ve been looking for a career that is more creative that I could transition out of the operations side of the hospitality business (event coordinator) . I actually explored this at KSU but didn’t think I could make a living while staying in Kent, Ohio. With 20 years in the hospitality business and from a family of artists this could really be a wonderful fit. Any thougths?

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.v.lafianza Linda V. LaFianza

    What about food anthropologists?

    • Anonymous

      I’m bummed I didn’t come across this career while researching, because it sounds like a perfect fit for a foodie! Where did you hear about this job?

  • Fredilev

    I work as a Culinary Strategy consultant. In that role I work with client on projects a varied as recipe development, editorial strategy setting for websites, evaluation of potential take over targets for food companies, food trend tracking… It’s a blending of hands-on culinary and marketing. I guess that’s what you end up with when you have degrees from the Culinary Institute of America and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

    • Anonymous

      Wow! What a sweet job! Thanks for sharing. How did you end up in that field?

    • Wms2009

      Very interesting. I have worked for some large food/restaurant companies employing outside food “consultants”. Some were OK, others bad, all expensive. Sounds like you have a great background for this mix of biz and food. Just curious how you find and get connected with clients and how you charge.

  • brian

    thanks for pointing out the obvious!

  • Anonymous

    Really! You actually think these jobs are available? Sure get in line with the hundreds of thousands of people who will do most of these for free just to get your foot in the door.

  • Mark Parker

    I have always been amazed that more people in the culinary business do not do what I do. I am a CIA grad and instead of pursuing the ‘high end’ world I have made a career in high volume. I take care of food and camp operations for international construction projects and am presently in Mongolia feeding 12,000 people per meal. As far as salary since your article shows pay scales..try $300,000 – $500,000 per year depending on location.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds like exciting work. How do you get started in a job like that?

    • Jay

      Who do you talk to about that, my wife loves to travel and I’ve been a chef for 20 years.

    • Norm

      where do i sign up?

    • Andrea Luberto

      How did youet started in this?

    • Anonymous

      That sounds im interested in this too . what is the name of this career?

  • Food Court Jester

    I second the culinology comment. As someone who manages food scientists and chefs, the food manufacturing industry could always use more food scientists with culinary sensibilities to work in product development. A food science degree coupled with some internships and even restaurant experience can actually amount to a pretty lucrative career. A food science degree from a state school (cheap tuition) will earn you $40K + to start in most markets across functions like operations, quality assurance and R&D, even food ingredient sales. I cooked in restaurants through high school and college and I couldn’t justify or afford paying $30-40K a year in tuition for a culinary degree that doesn’t guarantee easy entry into a corporate job so I went with food science. There are still many more food scientist positions needed in manufacturing than culinary. Most culinary grads end up making $8-12/hr working nights, weekends and holidays in hotels and restaurants for years. Of course, a lot of kids go to culinary school with dreams that they’ll be the next Bobby Flay kind of like a lot of kids from the ghetto think they’ll be a pro athlete. If I were spending that kind of coin on a degree I wouldn’t be learning to cook, I’d be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Granted, I didn’t have to worry about that because I’m not that smart.

    • Mark

      I’m a culinary grad from work at a private golf club with a triple digit salary. if you have talent and good work ethic with great product and food skills it pays well.

    • Teresa

      I am currently a Toxicologist with a federal government agency. I completed a diploma in Culinary Arts hoping I could get my foot in the door as a Food Scientist or in Culinology. Do you have any advice on how to do that? You may contact me at washinte@yahoo.com.

      Thanks for any assistance.

  • Luke

    Being an Executive Chef for Healthcare is a lot fun and is very rewarding. Yes you have to feed the patients a well balanced meal so they get better but you also get to cook for the Dr’s and the cafeterias. We do at least 15 caterings a week. This week is the employee Christmas party we will be serving 1200 employees prime rib, chicken florentene, roasted potatoes, broccoli casserole and assorted desserts. Salary is 50,000 to 75,000. Monday through Friday and most holidays off.

  • Lrlntad

    How do you start a small home business in food ?

  • flightchef

    I am a CIA grad who chose to work in the aviation industry. I’m a flight attendant on a corporate jet and cater the food for my passengers. It is a great job, with awesome travel benefits and total creative freedom. I don’t have to worry about food cost and the pay is great. I wish more chefs would pursue this career, there are a lot of people doing it that have no food knowledge or culinary skills.

    • Todd canning

      I would love to find out more about your job and how to join up . My e-mail is toddchefcan@verizon.net. Todd Canning

    • Holdthepickles

      Hi,
      I would also would like to know more about this career path. I am a pastry chef. My email is holdthepickles@ymail.com

  • yudi batara

    I am quite satisfied as a connoisseur of food and are always interested in the natural foods and health benefits.

    http://healthyfood-list.blogspot.com/